State decimating fishing families, says Donegal priest

State decimating fishing families, says Donegal priest

Fr John Joe Duffy warned that the Department of Marine has “stood over a legacy of decimating the fishing industry” and “hard-working fishing families”.

Speaking at the launch of the documentary The Fisher’s Voice, Fr Duffy called the department “the anti-fishing department” due to its legacy of decimating the fishing industry.

“But they’re not just decimating the industry, they’re decimating good, hard-working families, they are trying to decimate men going to sea,” Fr Duffy explained.

The Department for Marine is “not fit for purpose”, he declared, while adding that the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority – in charge of regulating the fishing sector – is more like “the sea fisheries persecution authority”.

“It is persecuting Irish fishermen at the behest of senior officials who are in our department for far too long,” Fr Duffy said.

“There needs to be commitment from the Government to fishing communities and fishing families who have suffered loss, who have suffered hardship, and they are certainly not criminals.

“They are decent, hard-working people supporting their families, keeping their children in local schools, supporting their communities.”

The Donegal priest, himself the son of a fisherman, said it “saddens me greatly that the Taoiseach Micheál Martin decided to sign a law criminalising fishermen.

“Fishermen are the only people in this country criminalised for… trying to make a living to support their families and local communities.”

Fr Duffy drew on his own experience living in Burtonport, Co. Donegal, which “died as a fishing port due to EU policy”, he said.

“It’s a warning to other ports that this trajectory we’re on is one where there has been lack of support from successive governments and particularly from the Department of Marine to support fishing communities,” he stated.

Fr Duffy finished by “pleading” with the Government and the Taoiseach “to change their attitude and stand up for Irish fishing, which they have failed to do”.

He criticised the Brexit fallout which has left the Irish fishing industry an estimated €43 million out of pocket.